WITH Doncaster Rovers facing a gruelling schedule of nine games this month, hard-tackling midfielder Paul Keegan couldn’t have picked a better time to return to full fitness following a series of injury problems.
Keegan, who had played for around an hour in an ‘in house’ practice game the week before, played a full game in the 4-1 win over Lincoln City last week. He also had a run out in Tuesday’s practice game against Alfreton.
“I’ve been back in full training for nearly three weeks and have suffered no adverse reaction and I’m just looking to build up my fitness,” he told The Star.
Being out of contract at the end of the season, and not having played a game since Dean Saunders took over in September, it has been both a frustrating and worrying time for the former Bohemians star.
“The manager hadn’t seen me play until the practice games,” said Keegan.
Saunders was complimentary after first seeing Keegan play.
“He gives us something a bit different,” he said.
But Keegan knows that it will be in Championship games were he will be ultimately judged.
“I’ve still got to prove to the manager that I’m worthy of a another contract,” he said.
“I’m definitely available but it is up to the manager, but even if I’m not in the squad for the Brighton game on Saturday the fact that we’ve got so many games coming up this month is good news for me because he is going to want as many players as possible.
“Not having played many games this season, I’m fresh and raring to go. With so many games March is going to be a crucial month for us and it can go either way.
“But if we can get off to a good start against Brighton and Nottingham Forest then that would boost confidence and we could pull ourselves out of the bottom three.
“Although we lost at Brighton I thought we played very well down there and but for Billy (Sharp) and James (Hayter) being carried off in the second half I think we would have got something from the game.
“They started the season very well and were flying (they won five of their first six league games) high at the top of the table but then I think other teams started to figure them out a bit more.
“But to be fair they are still doing well and it’s obviously going to be a tough game but we are at home and we’ve been playing well at the Keepmoat.”
He added: “We’ve got to maintain our concentration levels for the full 90 minutes and not lose games when we look to be in the driving seat as we were in our last away match at Leeds when we led 2-0 at one stage and last Saturday’s home game against Peterborough.
“We’ve got to be able to see out games . We’ve possibly got to be a bit more ruthless and a bit more nasty and do what we’ve got to do to win games; that’s the most important thing at the moment.”
Teams and ref
ROVERS (possible): Ikeme, Chimbonda, Beye, Martis, Spurr, Gillett, Stock, Barnes, Bennett, Diouf, Bamayoko. (4-3-3).
Brighton (possible): Brezovan, Jara, Reyes, Greer, El-Abd, Mattock; Bridcutt, Navarro, Razak; Buckley, Mackail-Smith, Barnes (4-3-3).
GEOFF ELTRINGHAM (Sunderland): Has dished out a modest 63 yellow and four red cards in 28 games. He officiated in Rovers’ 2-1 defeat at Blackpool in October - one of four games this season where he didn’t book anybody. He booked five players in the Southampton-Blackpool game in December and six the following week in the Grimsby-Salisbury FA Cup tie.